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How the university differs from secondary school : Nigerian Education

Success in University Part 4: Your previous educational experience

It is important to understand how the university differs from secondary school and how well your own educational experience has prepared you for what you will find at a university. This is another way in which entering the university with your eyes open will prove beneficial.

The university is a unique experience for all students – regardless of whether you have just graduated from secondary school or are returning to training after years of work. You switch from one type of education to another. Some students have difficulties due to the differences between university and secondary school.

In general, however, university experience differs from secondary school in the following ways:

  • Time management is more important at the university due to different class and work schedules and other time commitments.
  • University lecturers and teachers rarely go to offer additional help if they fall behind. You are on your own and have to do the job, keep appointments, etc. without anyone looking over your shoulder.
  • There may or may not be a class attendance policy. You are expected to be mature enough to go to class without fear of punishment.
  • Many classes are large, so it is easy to feel lost in a crowd.
  • Many lecturers and trainers, especially in large classes, teach after the lecture – which can be difficult for those whose secondary school teachers have had a lot to do with the students.
  • University courses require more learning time and require you to work independently.
  • Your social and personal life at the university may be less monitored. Younger students may experience a sudden increase in freedom to do what they want.
  • You will meet more people with different backgrounds at the university.
  • All of these differences, along with a change in life, can lead to emotional changes for many students – both positive and negative.

What does it all add up? For some students, sudden independence and freedom can lead in negative directions: sleeping late, skipping classes, missing appointments, not learning enough for tests, and so on. Other students who are highly motivated and work hard in their classes may also have difficulty moving to the university’s higher academic standards. Suddenly you are responsible for everything. It can be exciting, but it can also be a challenge to get used to. All of the articles in this series will help you make this transition successful.


College success. (2015). Retrieved from or download the PDF. (License: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

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